Asteroid Files: Pan

Are you gripped by fear of the future? Would you say that you might even be… Pan-icking?

The Astronomy: 4450 Pan, provisional designation 1987 SY, is a highly eccentric, contact-binary asteroid, classified as a near-Earth asteroid and potentially hazardous object. It belongs to the group of Apollo asteroids and measures approximately 1.1 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 25 September 1987. The stony S-type asteroid orbits the Sun at a distance of 0.6–2.3 AU once every 633 days (1 year and 9 months). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.59 and an inclination of 6° with respect to the ecliptic. As an Apollo asteroid, it is an Earth-crosser and has a minimum orbit intersection distance with Earth of 0.0283 AU (4,230,000 km) or 11.0 lunar distances. In addition, due to its extremely eccentric orbit, it is also a Venus- and Mars-crosser and approaches Mercury within 20 Gm. Its first observation was made at Heidelberg Observatory in 1937, yet it remained unused and the asteroid’s observation arc begins with its discovery observation in 1987. The asteroid is a contact binary, composed of two lobes in mutual contact, held together only by their weak gravitational attraction, and typically show a dumbbell-like shape (also see 4769 Castalia). A large number of near-Earth objects are thought to be contact binaries.

The Myth: In Greek religion and mythology, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Ancient Greek language, from the word paein meaning “to pasture”; the modern word “panic” is derived from the name. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is also recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism. One of the famous myths of Pan involves the origin of his pan flute, fashioned from lengths of hollow reed. Syrinx was a lovely wood-nymph of Arcadia, daughter of Landon, the river-god. As she was returning from the hunt one day, Pan met her. To escape from his importunities, the fair nymph ran away and didn’t stop to hear his compliments. He pursued from Mount Lycaeum until she came to her sisters who immediately changed her into a reed. When the air blew through the reeds, it produced a plaintive melody. The god, still infatuated, took some of the reeds, because he could not identify which reed she became, and cut seven pieces (or according to some versions, nine), joined them side by side in gradually decreasing lengths, and formed the musical instrument bearing the name of his beloved Syrinx. Henceforth Pan was seldom seen without it. Disturbed in his secluded afternoon naps, Pan’s angry shout inspired panic (panikon deima) in lonely places. Following the Titans’ assault on Olympus, Pan claimed credit for the victory of the gods because he had frightened the attackers. In the Battle of Marathon (490 BC), it is said that Pan favored the Athenians and so inspired panic in the hearts of their enemies, the Persians. Pan is famous for his sexual powers, and is often depicted with a phallus. Diogenes of Sinope, speaking in jest, related a myth of Pan learning masturbation from his father, Hermes, and teaching the habit to shepherds. Pan’s greatest conquest was that of the moon goddess Selene. He accomplished this by wrapping himself in a sheepskin to hide his hairy black goat form, and drew her down from the sky into the forest where he seduced her.

Why He Matters: Pan is a bawdy, lewd and lascivious asteroid. Wherever he is in your chart he will shuck off all rules and restrictions, bucking traditions to go your own way. He is a potent sexual asteroid, pointing towards your urges. Seduction and temptation are his game, and he is very good at it- He seems to take a special delight in the corruption of the young and innocent. He is animalistic, and as such also rules over your animal instinct. Pan represents danger, and sense of the same. He is raw, and full of life. He squeezes all the joy that he can out of every moment that he has, and that will be reflected in his chart position. Wherever you find Pan, you will be wild- Pan does not follow any conventions or rules, he follows the older, more austere and demanding laws of the land. He is strongly connected to the earth, and the wild fallow places, outside the control and order of Man. Pan also has a dark side- He rules over fear (Pan-ic) how it can overtake and paralyze you. Pan wields fear as a weapon, and he uses it to terrifying effect.

To find out where he shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 4450, for Pan. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Pan affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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